I write therefore I think

I think this will become a major problem with embedded GPT & LLM appearing in almost every work productivity tool — “Skipping the writing process short-circuits reflection (‘Writing as Thinking’)”Stephen P Anderson

While they may help to write summaries and presentations, tools like ChatGPT will likely short-circuit the creative writing process.

“For creative endeavors, I never want to have something else come up with my writing. The holistic labor of creative writing is struggling to succinctly translate your own experiences and ideas from your mental space to the physical realm. My ideas and the ways I express them in text are the most precious things I have, the ones that differentiate me from everyone else. Moreover, in the process of generating the written form of your ideas, you come up with different ways of thinking about them.” —Vicky Boykis 2023

In The Craft of Writing Effectively at the University of Chicago, a key point is that writing is an important form of thinking.

“Unlike a journalist, almost surely, you are using your writing process to help yourself think. In other words, the thinking that you are doing is at such a level of complexity that you have to use writing to help yourself do your thinking … You are using your writing to help yourself think.” —Larry McEnerney 2014

Even the process of note-taking can help make sense, inasmuch that ninety percent of it may be crap.

“Evernote to OneNote, Moleskins to Field Notes, Roam to Obsidian. We blame the tools, the techniques. Surely they’re to blame. A new app will be better.

Then we dump our newest thoughts into it, try the latest features to organize notes, until we’re back to safely forgetting things. Then the illusion gets shattered again, and we’re on to the next new thing.

Yet maybe the apps worked all along by letting us forget. We didn’t need bookmarks and notes as much as we needed the safety of letting go. Anywhere we could save our thoughts was enough.” —Matthew Guay 2022

So keep on writing to develop better thinking skills. Don’t let the machines think for you. They may be appropriate tools in your workflow from time to time, but not for thinking.
first we shape our tools and then they shape us

4 thoughts on “I write therefore I think”

  1. ‘I am writing not only to tell. I am writing to discover.’ ~ Siri Hustvedt, Memories of the Future

    ‘All too often I write to find out what I think about a subject, not because I already know.’ ~ Neil Gaiman, The View from the Cheap Seats

    ‘Writing is a concentrated form of thinking. I don’t know what I think about certain subjects, even today, until I sit down and try to write about them.’ ~ Don DeLillo interviewed by Adam Begley in The Paris Review

    ‘But along the way, we are reminded that the process is as valuable as the product, the method as potentially revelatory as the motive.’ ~ Jessica Helfand, Design: The Invention of Desire

  2. Harold, your post is timely. What a wonderful collection of finds from you, Richard, and Mukesh’s blog post – “I can also see the evolution of my thinking over time as I have documented my thinking on the blog on similar topic over time.” This temporal aspect and benefit of one’s own writing reinforces our writing/voice fingerprint.

    If I had a quarter for when during this week a friend or colleague in a workshop or cohort-based course perhaps unintentionally chose to short-circuit their own inward discovery through writing, I’d at least be able to by a medium sized fancy coffee drink.

    By the way, I am currently reading Gaiman’s “The View from the Cheap Seats” (in Part III) and his own writing, reflections of his writing, as well as how he opines on other writers and creators is wonderful.


Leave a comment


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.